Hammerschmidt v. United States 254

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtTAFT
Citation44 S.Ct. 511,265 U.S. 182,68 L.Ed. 968
Decision Date26 May 1924
PartiesHAMMERSCHMIDT et al. v. UNITED STATES. No 254

265 U.S. 182
44 S.Ct. 511
68 L.Ed. 968
HAMMERSCHMIDT et al.

v.

UNITED STATES.

No 254.
Argued April 29 and 30, 1924.
Decided May 26, 1924.

Messrs. Ed. F. Alexander, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Joseph W. Sharts, of Dayton, Ohio, for petitioners.

Page 183

The Attorney General and Mr. Assistant Attorney General Davis, for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 183-184 intentionally omitted]

Page 185

Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a review by certiorari of the conviction of thirteen persons charged in one indictment with the crime of violating section 37 of the Penal Code (Comp. St. § 10201). The charge was that the petitioners willfully and unlawfully conspired to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating a lawful function of its government, to wit, that of registering for military service all male persons between the ages of 21 and 30, as required by the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917 (40 Stat. 76 [Comp. St. 1918, Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1919, §§ 2044a-2044g, 2044h-2044k]), through the printing, publishing and circulating of handbills, dodgers, and other matter intended and designed to counsel, advise, and procure persons subject to the Selective Act to refuse to obey it. A demurrer to the indictment was overruled, and trial and conviction followed. By exception and assignment of error the question is properly made whether a crime described as above can be said to be a conspiracy to defraud the United States. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. 287 Fed. 817.

The indictment was framed, and the argument of the government in support of the conviction is based, on the language of this court in Haas v. Henkel, 216 U. S. 462, 479, 30 Sup. Ct. 249, 253 (54 L. Ed. 569, 17 Ann. Cas. 1112), construing section 5440, R. S. (now section 37 of the Penal Code), which reads as follows:

'If two or more persons conspire * * * to defraud the United States in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such parties do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, all the parties to such conspiracy shall be liable,' etc.

The opinion was delivered by Mr. Justice Lurton, and the words relied on are:

'The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing

Page 186

or defeating the lawful function of any department of government.'

This language it is contended necessarily embraces a conspiracy to defeat the selective draft by inducing the persons required to register under is to defeat its purpose by refusing to register.

We think the words relied on cannot be given such a wide meaning when we consider the case to which they were applied, and when we replace them in the context. The court was dealing with an appeal in a habeas corpus case to test the validity of an order of removal of the appellant under section 1014, R. S. The main question was whether the indictments under which the removal was ordered charged an offense against the United States. They charged two sets of conspiracies. One was that the defendant with two others, one an associate statistician in the Department of Agriculture, conspired to obtain secret official information which the statistician in violation of his official duty was to give out to his co-conspirators concerning...

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341 practice notes
  • Tanner v. United States, No. 86-177
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1987
    ...569 (1910); see also Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 66, 62 S.Ct. 457, 463, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924). We do not reconsider that aspect of the scope of § 371 in this case. Therefore, if petitioners' ......
  • U.S. v. Nersesian, Nos. 600
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 29, 1987
    ...one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft, or trickery, or by means that are dishonest. Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924); United States v. Turkish, 623 F.2d 769, 771 (2d Cir.1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1077, 101 S.Ct......
  • U.S. v. Rigas, No. 08-3218.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • October 21, 2009
    ...that are dishonest. See United States v. Arch Trading Co., 987 F.2d 1087, 1091-92 (4th Cir.1993); see also Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924). On the other hand, the "offense" clause aims to protect the public generally. Brandon, 17 F.3d at ......
  • In re American Honda Motor Co. Dealerships Litig., Civil No. MDL-95-1069.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • August 30, 1996
    ...v. United States, 483 U.S. 350, 358, 107 S.Ct. 2875, 2880-81, 97 L.Ed.2d 292 (1987) (quoting in turn Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924))) (internal quotation marks omitted). Courts have read this language differently in different contex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
340 cases
  • Tanner v. United States, No. 86-177
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1987
    ...569 (1910); see also Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 66, 62 S.Ct. 457, 463, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924). We do not reconsider that aspect of the scope of § 371 in this case. Therefore, if petitioners' ......
  • U.S. v. Nersesian, Nos. 600
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • June 29, 1987
    ...one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft, or trickery, or by means that are dishonest. Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924); United States v. Turkish, 623 F.2d 769, 771 (2d Cir.1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1077, 101 S.Ct......
  • U.S. v. Rigas, No. 08-3218.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • October 21, 2009
    ...that are dishonest. See United States v. Arch Trading Co., 987 F.2d 1087, 1091-92 (4th Cir.1993); see also Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924). On the other hand, the "offense" clause aims to protect the public generally. Brandon, 17 F.3d at ......
  • In re American Honda Motor Co. Dealerships Litig., Civil No. MDL-95-1069.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • August 30, 1996
    ...v. United States, 483 U.S. 350, 358, 107 S.Ct. 2875, 2880-81, 97 L.Ed.2d 292 (1987) (quoting in turn Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188, 44 S.Ct. 511, 512, 68 L.Ed. 968 (1924))) (internal quotation marks omitted). Courts have read this language differently in different contex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • FEDERAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...in this Issue.44. Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S. 107, 128 (1987) (quoting Dennis, 384 U.S. at 861); Hammerschmidt v.United States, 265 U.S. 182, 188 (1924); see United States v. Reich, 479 F.3d 179, 188 (2d Cir. 2007) (statingthat statutes enacted to protect the government should not be ......

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